I get a nasty surprise this morning. The lodge only has hot water when the sun is up, so I have to depend on the icy cold to warm up. At least we get a nice surprise at breakfast – instead of eggs and bread like we’d been expecting, it’s pancakes with dulce de leche, which is kind of the South American equivalent of nutella – only it’s a caramel sauce rather than a chocolate spread. They LOVE it here.
We have a late start this morning, not heading out until 9:30. Today we have to head up for about 60 minutes, and then it’s downhill again, so it’ll be our test for tomorrow. As it turns out, the first 20 minutes or so aren’t nearly as bad as I expected. I keep a good pace the whole time near the front of the line, so when we make our first stop 30 minutes in, I’m quite confident.
We’ve stopped at a small family-run museum that shows what life is like in the canyon. It includes a collection of farming tools, clothes, toys, and typical offerings to the mountains. It also has a collection of different corns and potatoes (turns out, there’s 2,350 types growing in Peru), and alpaca fur to touch. It runs on donations, and has an assortment of food, water and souvenirs to buy. I’m smitten with this beautiful condor embroidered purse bag, but I don’t have the money to justify buying it, especially since I know I’ll never use it.
The next leg of our journey is a lot steeper, and it takes a lot more effort to keep up with our guide – who eventually has the fast members of our group go on ahead while he waits for the others. Thankfully, by 11:45 we’ve cleared the uphill, and hit the flat section, giving us a chance to catch our breath.
We also come across the canyon’s ‘supermarket,’ which is near an exporting road and thus has cheaper prices than everywhere else in the canyon. We’re warned to buy breakfast and water for tomorrow here – because we’ll be leaving early. We also indulge in cheap crisps, and a collection of fruit, including something called granadilla, which is known as the sweet passion fruit, and looks almost identical with only a difference in colour.
After this, we’re heading downhill for 40 minutes to reach our oasis accommodation, ‘Cielo Azure.’ I speed a little ahead, just behind our two hiking powerhouses, and just appreciate how incredible this place is. I know Peru is beautiful, but Colca Canyon really brought it’s A game.
Our meeting point is another bridge, and when we’re all together again, it’s just 20 more minutes before we arrive in our green haven for the night – which delights all of us by having a pool. Again, the rooms are very basic, stone walls with tin roofs and several beds, but the shower has some hot water which we didn’t expect, so that’s another bonus.
We all change for the pool, but before we dive in, it’s time for lunch again. Today it’s a pasta and potato soup (which is incredible), and fried potatoes with cheese, along with rice and (amazingly) some veg for the first time. This isn’t bad, but I only get a small piece of potato so don’t have enough to make an opinion on just how good it is compared to yesterday.
Honestly, being able to jump into a pool after 2 days of moderate hiking is a godsend. The water is even slightly warm so it’s enjoyable to lie in and enjoy. We’ve only got about 2 hours to enjoy it though, before the sun goes down and our private accommodation gets set upon by the 2 day trekkers who started today. So before it turns 4, we’re all grabbing a shower and getting ready for the evening.
The new arrivals are people on the two day trek, and boy do they look exhausted. Can’t say I’m surprised – yesterday had been enough trouble for most of us, I can’t even imagine what it must be like to do that section and then today’s in one go. They’re all straight in the showers, and then down to the bar area, where all the guides quickly gather and start celebrating a birthday with quite a bit of alcohol.
(which really goes to show just how adapt the locals area at surviving here – they all have to guide dozens of far less capable tourists up a semi-sheer canyon tomorrow, but have no fear in getting drunk tonight).
Tonight was another bout of quinoa soup, which I really need to try and make at home, followed by what was probably my least favourite meal of the trip – spaghetti with a tomato sauce. Very basic, and I felt for anyone doing the 2 day who missed out on our meal yesterday.
Finally, once the food was cleared and we’d finished playing exploding kittens and the other’s had grabbed their alcohol, we headed out of the bar and off to the grassy areas to do another bout of stargazing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really lie on the grass because the dogs would freak out and start investigating, but the views from the canyon are some of the most amazing I’ve ever seen. The night sky here is almost a living being, full of colour and movement. We spent a good hour just standing there and taking it in, far away from the bar and watching the constellations move. To be honest, the only reason I was even able to move, was knowing I had to be up and ready to go at 5am. That hike is going to be brutal.